Jewelers’ ‘Most Wanted’

The jewelry industry’s own version of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list—the “Most Wanted” page of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance Web site (http://jsa.polygon.net)—is less than two years old but is gaining the attention of jewelers and law-enforcement officials. The page displays photographs (seen here) and names of individuals suspected of crimes against jewelers and other members of the jewelry trade and provides details of the crimes. It complements JSA’s well-used crime-prevention and “Wanted” bulletins.

Its effectiveness soon will be enhanced. This year, JSA will link its site to other industry Web sites, thanks to an upgrade of its computer system. The links will allow information on suspected crooks to reach a wider audience, increasing the chance of arrests. Also on JSA’s drawing board: an edited version of its “Most Wanted” Web page open to the public.

Here’s a brief rundown of suspects on JSA’s current “Most Wanted” list. If you have information on any of them, call the law-enforcement officials listed and contact JSA at (800) 537-0067 or (212) 687-0328; e-mail: jsa2@idt.net.

Attacks on traveling salespeople. Sought are two suspects believed to be part of a gang linked to numerous armed robberies of jewelry salespeople during the past few years. They are identified as Edgar “Jessie” Perez and Orlando “Flaco” Hernandez.

Perez is wanted for a 1995 armed robbery in Los Angeles. The victim was robbed at gunpoint by five or six men while he was changing a tire. Perez, 30, is 5 ft. 6 in. tall and weighs 140 lbs. He has black hair and brown eyes and may have a goatee. Hernandez is wanted for a similar robbery in 1995. He weighs 140 lbs., stands 5 ft. 7 in. tall, and has black hair, brown eyes, and a pockmarked face.

The gang to which the suspects reportedly are linked has been active in California, Nevada, Illinois, Washington, D.C., Arizona, Washington state, Virginia, and New York. Its method is for three or more men armed with guns and knives to follow their victims from retail jewelry stores, trade shows, or jewelry districts. The robberies occur in parking garages, restaurants, and hotel lobbies as well as on streets and highways, often during daytime. The victim’s life is threatened, and if he or she resists, there may be violence. The criminals often take the victim’s vehicle.

Contact Detective Mike Woodings of the Los Angeles Police Department at (213) 485-2524.

Bad checks. A European con man is sought by police in three states for allegedly passing bad checks to jewelers. Rudiger Fassbinder, a German citizen, was deported from the United States to Germany in 1989. He reportedly came back to the United States for a crime spree in 1992-93. After returning to Germany, he was imprisoned on German charges in 1994. The German government refused to extradite him to the United States. However, he is said to have been seen here in the past year. He is wanted for questioning in Pennsylvania, and there are warrants for his arrest in Florida and Utah.

Fassbinder, 50, is 6 ft. tall and weighs 200 lbs. He has salt-and-pepper hair and a German accent. His method is to say he’s interested in purchasing diamonds for his wife, “a doctor.” (In fact, his wife, Elke, who is 5 ft. 3 in. tall with curly red hair and glasses, is alleged to occasionally work with him.) He reportedly cashed fraudulent checks or money orders to pay for the purchase. Police and JSA say he uses his real name, a German passport, a German driver’s license, German credit cards, and a business card to establish his identity.

Contact Lt. Clyde Page, Sevier County (Utah) Sheriff’s Department, (801) 896-6433; Chief of Detectives Don Vinson, Okaloosa County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Department, (904) 651-2611; Detective Matt Zimmermann, New Hope (Pa.) Police Department, (215) 862-3033; or Detective John Golbreski, Upper Merion Township (Pa.) Police Department, (215) 862-3033.

Armed robbery. Three suspects are sought for the armed robbery of a traveling jewelry salesman in Miami in 1998. The crime was committed as the victim prepared for a trunk show. Police have identified the suspects as Erixon Cruz, German Rodriguez, and Giraldo Gildardo.

Cruz, 32, is 5 ft. 7 in. tall, weighs 160 lbs., and has black hair and brown eyes. Rodriguez, 20, is 5 ft. 4 in. tall, weighs 127 lbs., and has black hair and brown eyes. Gildardo, 19, is 5 ft. 7 in. tall, weighs 150 lbs., and has black hair and brown eyes.

Contact Detective G. J. Starkey, Miami-Dade Police Department, Robbery Bureau, (305) 471-2224.

Accomplice on the run. In 1997, six people were involved in robbing a jewelry store in Toronto, Canada, of more than $2 million in diamonds and watches. Most are in custody. One suspected gang member, identified by Toronto police as Linda Marie Snyder, recently has been on the run. She may have come to the United States, possibly Florida. There was a Canadian warrant for her arrest and a reward for information leading to recovery of the stolen property.

Snyder, 33, is 5 ft. 6 in. tall and weighs 110 lbs. She has brown hair, which she sometimes dyes blond and wears in a pony tail, and a tattoo of the sun and a rose below her left elbow. She speaks French and English and has worked as an exotic dancer in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and other countries.

(At press time, Toronto police told JCK that Snyder had surrendered and turned herself in.)

Memo fraud. Yaakov Asraf is sought by New Jersey police for allegedly defrauding 28 jewelry firms of about $2 million. Doing business as “Gold Center,” he is accused of operating a memo fraud scheme in Seaside Heights and Toms River, N.J.

He reportedly first established good credit by paying for small initial shipments of jewelry with valid checks. He then allegedly made numerous contacts with suppliers at industry trade shows and took larger shipments of diamonds and gold on memorandum. He paid for these with worthless checks, say police and JSA. He obtained a number of shipments of gold between December 1995 and March 1996.

Following his arrest and release on April 1, 1996, he disappeared and may have fled to Israel to avoid prosecution. (His family filed a missing persons report.) Authorities believe he may “continue to have contact and involvement” with the jewelry industry in the United States or abroad, says JSA. The FBI also is seeking him on a charge of interstate transportation of stolen property.

Asraf, 42, is 5 ft. 9 in. tall, weighs 210 lbs., and has brown hair and black eyes. He uses the names Jack, Jacob, and Yaakov.

Contact Detective John Thievon, Dover Township Police Department, Toms River, N.J., (732) 349-0150, Ext. 7251, or Special Agent Susan Pigliacelli, FBI Office, Red Bank, N.J., (732) 741-0006.

Diamond theft. Jorge Enrique Campos is wanted by the FBI and Brainerd, Minn., police for theft of a 1-ct. $4,000 diamond ring from a jewelry store. On Aug. 1, 1996, a man identified as Campos visited the store and asked to see some expensive gold watches. He then asked to see some diamond rings for an anniversary gift for his wife. While the sales associate was distracted, Campos allegedly left the store with the ring. Police believe he has committed a similar crime within the past six months.

Campos, 64, is 5 ft. 8 in. tall and weighs 200 lbs. He has dark skin, graying hair, a mustache, and brown eyes and speaks with a heavy accent. He wears, or may hold, glasses. He also wears gold neck chains with a medallion. He uses the aliases Oscar Aldira Ramos, Francisco L. Vasquez, and Marcus Torres Betancourt.

Contact Special Agent Colleen Rowley, FBI Minneapolis Division, at (612) 376-3200 or Detective Bruce London, Brainerd (Minn.) Police Department, (218) 829-2805.

What to Do

If you encounter, or have information about, any of these or other JSA “Most Wanted” criminals, JSA urges:

  1. Don’t attempt to apprehend criminal suspects yourself.

  2. Contact your local police. Try to provide a good description. (Use distinguishing features such as height, hair color, and size.)

  3. Contact the law-enforcement agency listed with the suspect’s information in the JSA bulletin or JSA Most Wanted online.

  4. Contact JSA at (800) 537-0067 or (212) 687-0328.